PC Advisor has an article about Wikipedia accusing Baidu Baike, the user-generated Chinese web encyclopedia, of copyright violations. While the article focuses on the accusation that some of Baidu Baike’s content were copied from Wikipedia without attribution, I found the description of Baidu Baike quite interesting itself, as I wasn’t aware of the site’s existence until now.
Baidu Baike [is] the largest online Chinese-language encyclopedia. [It] contains more articles than any Wikipedia except the English-language Wikipedia. Baidu Baike boasted 809,237 entries as of Sunday, edging out the German edition of Wikipeida, which has 619,612 entries, for second place.
And Baidu Baike was able to get to its size in spite of extra hurdles for contributors.
Anyone wishing to publish entries on Baidu Baike must register first, giving the site people’s real names, and site administrators review all entries before posting, a way to ensure compliance with Chinese censorship laws.
The copyright accusation, if true, would create some philosophical dilemmas for Wikipedia. Since the Chinese version of Wikipedia is blocked in China, Baidu Baike can in fact be considered as a proxy for people to access Wikipedia’s content. If their disagreement is not successfully resolved, then hypothetically Wikipedia may have to choose between protecting its copyright license and promoting easy access to its content for the people of China.
However, Wikipedia may in fact be too toothless to take action any which way. It has to rely on its moral authority, as its legal power is quite weak.
“The foundation does not hold a copyright on the articles, the editors or the authors do, so there is very little we can do,” said Nibart-Devouar [, chair of the Board of Trustees at the Wikimedia Foundation.]